Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

December 30, 2013

Hunger help aim of mission

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — There’s no doubt it’s a mission for some to continue working to offer that helping hand when it comes to children and hunger.

Offering some insight into that effort was a couple of representatives of the Regional Food Bank during a recent meeting of the Pauls Valley Rotary Club.

One was Lisa Perry of the Food Bank in Oklahoma City.

Another was Lucille Ensey, who has worked for some time to establish and strengthen programs of hope for these kids through the schools here in Garvin County.

One such effort is called the Backpack Program.

“In Garvin County there are nine schools participating in the backpack program,” Perry said.

“It’s meant to address elementary age chronic hunger,” she said.

“Our goals is to get more schools enrolled in the program.”

As for Garvin County, all the schools here take part in the program meant to help chronically hungry kids in local elementary schools.

The way it works is these children receive backpacks on Fridays filled with non-perishable food meant to sustain them over the weekends and holidays.

According to Perry, it serves 53 counties in Oklahoma with a total of 369 kids in Garvin County now being helped through this program.

“We never know the names of the children,” Perry said.

“Once children are identified we make sure they have the resources they need.”

It all starts with teachers in these schools looking for the signs of students who might need help.

“These kids might be asking for seconds or thirds when they’re going through the breakfast or lunch lines,” she said.

Getting the kids hooked up with the help they need is not always as easy as it sounds.

“You and I tend to forget about peer pressure,” Ensey said.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to get kids to come and get the food because they’re embarrassed,” she said.

Another effort led by the Regional Food Bank is what’s called a Food Pantry Program.

This one looks to provide similar help to middle and high school students in need.

Right now there are more than 90 schools in the state participating in this program, including Paoli.

“They have 38 kids who participate in that program,” Perry said.

The Regional Food Bank itself also works with a number of food pantries all over the county, including five right here in the Pauls Valley area.

Perry stresses donations are a big deal because the food agency is able to stretch $1 to provide food for five meals.

“A donation of $200 provides food for an entire school year for one child,” she added.